OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 4


Pages: 1 2 3 <4> 5 6 7 8 9 10

About twelve o'clock the tocsin began to ring out from the Hôtel de Ville, and was quickly followed by the bells in every church tower in Paris. Petion's confederates soon became aware of his detention at the palace, and they were at no loss for a stratagem to obtain his release. They announced to the assembly the fact of the mayor being detained there, and the jacobins soon procured an order for his appearance at the bar of the assembly to give an account of the state of the city. Had Louis had the necessary firmness, he would have insisted on the necessity of the mayor remaining where he was, but that is the same as saying that had he had this firmness there would have been no révolution. Petion was permitted to go to the assembly, and there another deputation was waiting to call him back to the Hôtel de Ville. The measures adopted for the defence of the palace were all defeated by the same manœuvres. Mandat had posted a body of gendarmeries with artillery on the Pont Neuf to keep back the Marseillais and the men of the Faubourg St. Marceau, who must cross the Seine to unite with the people of the Faubourg St. Antoine. He had sent another to the Hôtel de Ville as an early check on the Faubourg St. Antoine; but all these gensdarmes were deeply jacobinised, and, therefore, of little use. Others were posted on the Place Vendôme, and the most important approaches to the palace. In the courts of the Tuileries, and in the avenues of the gardens, he had stationed bodies of national guards, such as he thought the most faithful, and the palace itself was intrusted to the Swiss - some of these being within the palace itself.

These arrangements were soon interrupted. Manuel, procureur of the commune, ordered the gensdarmes and the cannon from the Pont Neuf, on the ground that they pre- vented the free passage of the Citizens. That was about half-past two in the morning, when not many Citizens ought to have been about; but the Citizens meant by Manuel were the Marseillais and the jacobinised portions of the national guards. These bodies at once obeyed, and thus the way was left open for the junction of those parties that Mandat wished to prevent. This occasioned much alarm in the palace, and it was urged to set Manuel's order at defiance; in fact, on such an occasion, it ought to have been enough for the commandant to say that the safety of the royal family required the maintenance of that post. No single arrangement of Mandat's should have been permitted to be interfered with till the insurrectionary mob was dispersed; but Louis XVI.'s conceding disposition was known, was calculated on, and was his ruin.

As day broke madame Elizabeth went to the window, and, observing the sky very red, called to the queen, who had merely thrown herself on a sofa, to see the sun rise. "It was the last time," says Rœderer, " that she ever saw the sun rise." The arrangements of Mandat having been made known at the Hôtel de Ville, the officers who had assumed the civic powers for the moment, sent an order for him to attend there, on pretence that Petion, the mayor, desired to consult with him on the best means of employing the forces. Mandat refused to quit his proper post; but a second and more imperative order came - he still properly refused; and it would have been well for all parties had he continued firm to that purpose. But those about him, Rœderer and the departmental officers amongst them, wholly unaware of the coup-d'état which had taken place at the Hôtel de Ville, strongly urged his going. Mandat at length, though very reluctantly, complied. He put into the hands of his son Petion's order to repel force by force, and went. It was about four o'clock in the morning. On reaching the hotel he was astonished to find a new authority there. He was instantly surrounded and questioned as to the Orders he had issued; the order of Petion for repelling force by force was demanded from him, and on his replying that he had left it at the palace, they charged him with a design to shed the blood of the Citizens, and ordered him to be committed to the Abbaye prison. Mandat had fallen into the trap which his own good sense would have avoided; he had left the Tuileries comparatively defenceless by his absence, and must have felt deep grief at the circumstance. But he had brief time to indulge his regrets: the president, as he was taken away, made a sign which was well understood, and, before he had well crossed the threshold of the hotel, he was knocked down by clubs and pikes, and dispatched by a pistol-shot. The ruffians then stripped him, hoping to find Petion's order, but not discovering it they threw the body into the Seine, though another of Mandat's sons, who had accompanied him, entreated with tears to be allowed to convey it away. It was wonderful that these brutal butchers did not murder the son too, but they afterwards made up for this by guillotining Mandat's daughter.

This ferocious murder threw the palace into consternation and despair. The man on whom they had placed their chief dependence was destroyed. Had Mandat remained, and had the king been the man to have ordered a vigorous sally by the Swiss, and the national guards of the section Filles St. Thomas, on the Marseillais and the advancing faubourgs, such yet was the hesitation of these bodies that their dispersion would have been certain. Mandat had proposed that when one party of them debouched upon the Place of the Hôtel de Ville by the arcade of St. Jean, they should be suddenly charged, and that at the Louvre, those who should approach by the Pont Neuf, along the quay of the Tuileries, should be served in the same manner. He had ordered that they should be suffered to file past, and then be charged in the rear, whilst other troops should form through the wickets of the Louvre, and charge them in front. Had the king been capable of mounting a horse, and charging at their head, there would have been no question about the issue. He might have scoured the streets of the mob, seized the leading jacobins, broken up their club, dismissed, and remained master of Paris, as Buonaparte did at an after period, suddenly winding up the révolution at the back of well-served cannon. But Louis was not made of such stuff, and then - the revolution and all its horrors.

That all this might have been done, even at this late moment, is clear from the conduct of the insurgents. The Marseillais were waiting in vain for the men of the Faubourg St. Antoine, who did not appear, and they began to think that the scheme had miscarried. Santerre, the brewer, who did not show much courage on this occasion, also caught at this idea, that the Faubourg St. Marceau did not stir, and advised that the attack should be put off a day or two; but Westermann pointed his[sword at Santerre, and declared that, if he did not march instantly, he would run him through. Then crying, " Allons, Santerre! allons, brothers of the Faubourg St. Antoine, and heroes of the Bastille! " the St. Antoine men began their march towards the Tuileries.

Whilst this period of hesitation had lasted, Rœderer, at the palace, hoping nothing in the absence of Mandat, had proposed to the queen that the royal family should hasten to the national assembly, and put themselves under its protection. The queen repelled the proposal with indignation, "Sir!" she said, "we have troops here; and it is time to know who shall have the upper hand, the king and the Constitution, or a lawless faction! "

Rœderer, who knew better than the queen how little the national guards, still less the gensdarmes, were to be relied on, proposed to call M. Lachesnaye, to whom the command had fallen since the death of Mandat. This was done, and Lachesnaye, who was himself a thorough anti-aristocrat, was asked by Rœderer whether he considered the arrangements for the defence of the palace sufficient, and whether the national guards might be depended upon. Lachesnaye replied that he did, provided the swarms of aristocrats who were in the palace, and who prevented those whose duty it was to defend the king getting near to him, were sent away. The queen was incensed at this reply, and pronounced it unreasonable, declaring that the gentlemen who had flocked about the king were ready to shed their blood for him, and to put themselves in any position that M. Lachesnaye should command. Rœderer, only the more confirmed in his feeling of insecurity by the observation of Lachesnaye, proposed that two of the ministers should be sent to the national assembly, to inform it of the position of things at the palace, and request them to dispatch a deputation of their members thither, to add their authority to those of the commandant. And this was done.

Meantime, the insurgents were on their march from different quarters towards the palace. Theroigne, the notorious courtezan, who had figured so conspicuously on the day of the march to Versailles, had arrayed herself in a short-skirted riding-habit, with a grenadiers cap on her head, a brace of pistols in her belt, and sword in hand, and was marching all over Paris, calling on the patriots to arm and join in the grand assault on the monarchy. She was followed by a wild and furious troop of sans culottes, ready for any excess. As they reached the Champs Elysées in their rounds, they found that the patriots had encountered a number of gentlemen armed, who were supposed to be royalists hastening to the Tuileries, and who were, therefore, seized and shut up in a guard-house. Theroigne learned that ail, except four of them, had escaped through a back window, and, to prevent the escape of these four, she demanded that they should be brought forth, and guarded to the Place Vendôme, where they were murdered under the eyes of this republican Amazon. This blood, added to that of Mandat, whetted the appetite of the mob, and they rushed forward to the centre of the day's enterprise.

By this time the palace was surrounded by vast throngs of the armed people. They could be seen by the inmates of the palace through the old doors of the courts, and from the windows. Their artillery was visibly pointed at the palace, and the noise of their shouting, beating of drums, and singing of insurrectionary songs, was awful. The king had issued an order that the Swiss and guards should not commence the attack, but should repel force by force, and Rœderer had descended and gone amongst the soldiers to read this order to them. It was now recommended that the king also should go down, and by showing himself, and addressing a few words to them, should animate them in their duty. The queen, her eyes inflamed with weeping, and with an air of dignity, which was never forgotten by those who saw her, said also, " Sire, it is time to show yourself." She is said to have snatched a pistol from the belt of old general d'Affry, and to have presented it in an excitement that scarcely allowed her to remain behind. Could she have changed places, had she been queen in her own right, there would soon have been a change of scene. As for Louis, with that passive courage which he always possessed, and so uselessly, he went forward and presented himself to view upon the balcony. He was clad as he had appeared in the council over night, for he had never gone to bed. He had on a purple suit, and wore a sword, but his hair had fallen into disorder on one side of his head, whilst on the other it retained its powder and curl. At the sight of him, the grenadiers raised their caps on the points of their swords and bayonets, and there were cries of " Vive le Roi! " the last that saluted him in his hereditary palace. Even at this cry, numbers of the national guards took alarm, imagining that they were to be surrendered to the knights of the dagger, and that they had been betrayed by the villain Mandat. The gunners, joining in the panic, turned their guns towards the palace, but the more faithful guards drove them from the guns, disarmed them, and put them under guard.

The king, undeterred, descended into the court, and, passing along the ranks, addressed them from time to time, telling them he relied on their attachment, and that in defending him, they defended their wives and children. He then proceeded through the vestibule, intending to go to the garden, when he was assailed by fierce cries from some of the soldiers: "Down with the veto!" "Down with the traitor!" " Vive la nation!" Madame Campan, who was at a window looking into the garden, saw some of the gunners go up to the king, and thrust their fists in his face, insulting him in the most brutal language. He was obliged to pass along the terrace of the Feuillans, which was crowded with people, separated from the furious multitude merely by a tricolour line, but he went on in spite of all sorts of menaces and abuse. He saw the battalions file off before his face, and traverse the garden with the intention of joining the assailants in the Place du Carrousel, whilst the gensdarmes at the colonnade of the Louvre, and other places, did the same. This completely extinguished all hope in the unhappy king. The viscomte Du Bouchage, seeing the situation of Louis from the palace, descended in haste with another nobleman, to bring him in before some fatality happened to him. He complied, and returned with them. When the gunners thrust their fists in his face, madame Campan says Louis turned as pale as death; yet he had shown no want of courage, had it been of the right sort. He had, indeed, refused to wear a defensive sort of corset which the queen had had made for him, saying, on the day of battle it was his duty to be uncovered, like the meanest of his servants. When the royal family came in again, madame Campan says, " The queen told me all was lost; that the king had shown no energy, and that this sort of review had done more harm than good."

News now came that the Marseillais had crossed the Seine, and that all Paris was up. Rœderer renewed his desire that they should go to the assembly. The viscomte De Bouchage vehemently opposed this: he declared that the royal family could never reach the assembly alive. Rœderer, and some of the members of the departmental directory, offered to go to the assembly, and acquaint the members with the state of affairs. On their way, they met the two ministers who had been sent on the same errand before, and they told them they had been imploring the assembly, in vain, to render some assistance, and to send a deputation. Rœderer and his associates turned back. As they entered the palace court, and told the gunners to defend the gates at any cost, they took the powder out of their guns, and threw both powder and ball on the ground, and dashed out their lighted matches. This was decisive to all who saw it; a ad at the same instant the Marseillais entered the Place du Carrousel, and took up their posts against the palace. They endeavoured, but in vain, to win over the Swiss; and Rœderer, having seen enough, hastened into the palace, and assured the king that he had not a moment to lose; there was no safety for him except in the assembly. The king hesitated; the queen declared that she would be nailed to the walls of the palace before she would go to the assembly, which had never shown anything but enmity to the king and his family. Rœderer replied, addressing the king, " Sire, time presses; it is no longer a prayer that we make to you; it is no longer an advice we take the liberty to give; we have but one thing to do at this moment - to demand permission to drag you to the assembly." Louis, who was sitting with his hands on his knees, looking on the ground, at these words lifted his eyes, and, fixing them on Rœderer, said, "Let us go," and rose. "Sir," said the queen to Rœderer, "you answer for the lives of the king and my children." "Madame," replied the procureur syndic, "I will answer for it that I will die by their side, but I can promise nothing more! "

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 <4> 5 6 7 8 9 10

Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 4

Camille Desmoulins
Camille Desmoulins >>>>
Chateau de Versales
Chateau de Versales >>>>
The Royal family of France
The Royal family of France >>>>
Boulevards of Paris
Boulevards of Paris >>>>
Paris
Paris >>>>
Upper Rhine
Upper Rhine >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About